Genetics play a role in our physicality. The molecular basis for our genes is deosyribonucleic acid (DNA) which is composed of four nucleotides —— WAIT —— hold that thought —— I am no Geneticist and therefore will try to restrain myself from trying to be one. Regardless, genetics are important. They, in part, are our reflection in the mirror. Genetics help to describe our hair color, eye color, skin color, etc. Why do you think someone comments that “you look just like your mother /father when they were your age?” It’s due to genetics. However, an individuals’ diet can help and change how genes are utilized. For example: genetics determine how much muscle mass a person will have, but increasing it is accomplished through proper workouts and proper nutrition.
First off, there is a huge discrepancy between the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA’s) when it comes to protein intake. The current RDA for protein is 0.8 grams (g) per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day. Ex: A 140 pound female needs around 50 grams of protein per day. For endurance and strength athletes, this recommendation increases to 1.2 to 1.7 grams a day. Ex: A 140 pound female athlete needs around 67-108 grams of protein per day. However, have you ever walked into a gym and seen body builders? Can you image what a typical diet is for these guys? (Ex: Oatmeal, eggs, protein shakes, chicken, rice, broccoli, and repeat x4) How much protein do you think they are consuming? I can tell you now, it is a lot more than 100, 150, or 200 grams of protein a day.
Quantity and quality of protein is important but so is the timing of protein consumption in regard to increasing muscle mass. In two different studies, one conducted by Areta et al and the other by Moore et al, they looked at different protein levels, 20g, 40g, and 80g, that were consumed every 1.5 hours over a 12-hour recovery period. What they found was that those individual who consumed the lowest protein dose of 20g per 1.5 hours obtained the most benefit for muscle protein synthesis in trained individuals compared to the higher protein level. In other studies conducted by Yang et al and Burd et al, they looked at the type of protein needed for muscle synthesis. Each study concluded that whey protein isolate was better for muscle synthesis compared to soy protein isolate and casein.
Even though these studies were done using protein supplements, it is still best to consume protein through food —WHEY PROTEIN comes from MILK!!! It is also smart to consume protein regularly throughout the day to provide such benefit. Following these nutrition guidelines in addition to being physically active are not just for men. It is also a great way for women to stay strong and compete at a higher level. A daily protein menu would include: consuming 3 main meals and 2 snacks/mini meals a day where each meal/mini meal contains at least 20 grams of protein. Ex: There are 7 grams of protein in 1 ounce (oz) of animal product, chicken, beef, cheese, etc) Therefore, 3 ounces of chicken = 21 grams of protein. By following these nutrition guidelines while being physically active for 150 minutes a week will help you reach your fitness goals faster! Spring break…..here we come! (Little early….I know)
Areta Jl, Burke LM, Ross ML, et al. Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis. J Physiol. 2013.
Burd NA, Yang Y, Moore DR, Tang JE, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Greater stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis with ingestion of whey protein isolate vs micellar casein at rest and after resistance exercise in elderly men. Br J Nutr. 2012; 108:(6): 958-62.
Moore DR, Areta J, Coffey VG, et al. Daytime pattern of post-exercise protein intake affects whole-body protein turnover in resistance-trained males. Nutr Metab. 2012;9:(1):91.
Volpe, Stella Lucia. How to Increase Muscle Mass: What Does Science Tell Us? ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal 2013;17(5):35-36.